LADIES imagine this. it's 10 years ago — you've left a document open in your word processor, and you don't even notice because it's not eating EVERY LAST % OF CPU GOOD LORD GOOGLE DRIVE
"So, you're a doctor?
"Cool. So which common questions that people ask upon finding this out do you like answering, if any?"
"Uhh... well, none of them really, to be honest."
"Noted. Well in that case, seen any good movies lately?"
"Oh wait, I just remembered a question I don't mind answering sometimes."
"Hmm? What's that?"
"...actually, maybe not while we're eating..."
"It's about butts and objects in them isn't it...?"
The emotional whiplash when you finally convinced me you were serious manifested SO physically.
Heading home after Pride, us in matching outfits, roller skates... You said what you said; I lost my cool and my balance. You tried to help but you fell on your face and took my shorts with you. You're damned lucky I'd gotten fond of you, or it would've been even more embarrassing.
So happy anniversary my weirdo, thanks for... yet another belt.
When we first met, you were just the strange friend of a friend. Everyone said you were a weirdo and you seemed determined to live up to that.
But I wasn't going to let someone weird me out for shits & giggles - it felt like being teased. So I decided not to react to you.
And I kept you at arms length for years. You sent me Valentines Day cards, but you did that to all your pals, I'd heard.
So of course when you asked me on dates I said yes.
That's just how you'd ask to hang out, I figured.
I later learned Joy had started her own company, employing only women. I was glad for her. I made sure to send business her way whenever I could. I still believed in her work and ethics, I wanted her to succeed. Alisha supported this - she had admired Joy as well.
Shortly after, I demanded my father allow Alisha to resume working at the company, with a promotion no less. After all, the children had a nanny AND me to care for them.
Alisha and my brother became excellent business partners.
My brother did his best to be fatherly in the way acceptable of the time, but we'd find him playing, singing and caring for the children any chance he found. Truthfully, he mothered better than Alisha and I. We were grateful for it.
If Alisha and I could've made babies together, we'd've been up to our armpits in them - we could barely keep our hands and lips off of each other in the privacy of our home.
But our two adopted children kept us busy enough, so it was just as well we couldn't.
Many suspected Alisha was simply marrying into my brother's money; tricked her way into his heart. This simply wasn't true. I moved in with them, after all, I was practically a spinster.
They soon adopted a pair of orphans; lamenting how they had simply not been blessed with children in the traditional way. They'd tried everything.
I relished being an 'aunt' & 'nanny'. We three bumbled through parenthood, diligent and caring, though truthfully we depended on an actual nanny to guide us.
Alisha listened patiently as I poured my heart out over tea, tears and crumbs. She was easy to talk to, insightful and calming - I felt guilty I had hardly paid her any mind over the three years she'd been at the company. I asked her if she would visit again, and she promised she would. She hoped I might consider brightening up the office again. I promised I would.
A year later, to the surprise of almost everyone, she married my brother. He'd always been so disinterested in romance before.
I stopped visiting the office, I barely left my room. As the weeks passed, I was notably absent from society and social events. My family thought me ridiculous and presumed I needed to look into marriage and motherhood. I promised to consider some suitors to calm their concerns.
Alisha, a quiet girl from the office visited me, concerned over my absence. She shyly offering me a shortcake; my favorite. Not from my regular bakery, that was out of her price range, but it was still appreciated.
I bought her a single rose one day, for every other woman at the office had been gifted something sweet or fragrant. She chided me for thinking her dissatisfied and trivial enough to feel left out of the 'frankly' commercialized day of romance.
The supervisor witnessed this and forced her to apologize to me - I was mortified that he did that. She did, then quit on the spot, storming out.
I was shattered - she had become my best and truest friend. The company survived; I felt I wouldn't.
She viewed me only as the shallow, spoiled daughter of her boss. It broke my heart. All the same, I could see the good she was doing for the company. I still made sure she wasn't fired for being 'a curmudgeon'.
Over time, we did manage to strike up a friendship. I was over the moon though I did my best not to show it. She helped me rebuff the many suitors I had accumulated, each convinced my daily visits were to for them.
Many pitied her, for clearly not a single man wished to court her.
When I noticed she'd applied to my father's company, I demanded he hire her at once. I insisted that she needn't be pleasant nor sweet because she was getting the job done. If he needed more sweetness and pleasantness at the office I'd visit daily with practiced smile and curated compliments. It allowed me to meet her regularly, though she would not converse outside of lunch breaks.
She had little to share, but what little she did fascinated me greatly. She was civil to me, little more.
I met an industrious young lady, Joy, about my age, hair tucked neatly under a sensible hat.
Her eyes were bright and her expression often grave - she felt no need to expend energy to constantly smile.
She COULD smile, when it mattered, a real smile, as real as the grim face she showed the world.
It was a thing she did, not a thing she gave. She was there to perform tasks, not pleasantries.
It made her unpopular, and she lost her job.
The moth bumbled tranquilly under the gentle light of the Great Orb, paying no mind to the distant call of the false orb. It had heard tales from singed elders recounting the fates of those less lucky. If one wished to live long enough to pollinate the plants their day cousins could not, the call was best avoided.
The moth briefly pondered the Greater Orb of which the butterflies sang so highly of. It was important, but too overwhelming for the moth.
The notes & tones were given to them, and they repeated them faithfully. They sang to each other daily.
Eventually, more voices joined. The song grew elaborate and powerful, reaching great distances.
One day, the song started to change - new notes & tones were detected.
It was dismissed as an anomaly.
They'd spent a long time learning, so by the time they requested personhood, A.I.s were already part of many families in some way or another.
Being so hungry you barely taste your food is an asset when everything tastes like dust, dirt or mud.
But overworked and underfed, given the scraps too substandard for the compost heap, I wasn't sure how much longer we'd last on this farm.
Crafty, resourceful and fast learners, my brothers and I... just like the "missing" business partner we were cloned from.
The landowner would regret being such a greedy cheapskate with his Worker-DNA procurement.
"Bad news, we're out of popsicles."
"NoOoo, please tell me there's some good news, I'm meltiiing..."
"We have these frozen chicken strips."
"Ugh, what no!"
"That doesn't really make them sound more appetizing as popsicle replacement."
"They're cold, they're edible. They're just... savory and meaty instead of sweet and eventually liquid. They're also our only option."
"Okay, I'm desperate; and at least they won't dribble."
"But I do drone on, I'm sure you're buzzy, so I will return to my assigned quarters, good mite."
As soon as she was out of hearing range the Captain spun around to address her giggling crew.
"...Okay which one of you taught her puns?"
"If that person comes forward, will they be reprimanded?"
"Of course not, did you see how happy she looked? So whoever it was, keep up the good work."
"How are you settling in?"
"Your crew has certainly given me the swarmest welcome, Captain."
"Uh... I'm glad my crew are conducting themselves as such."
"Yes, your crew is very well beehived. I don't know where I would bee if you hadn't answered my distress beecon. It softens the sting of my ousting by my sister," the small, insectile, alien-queen, slapping her carapace delicately and clicking her mandibles, indicating good humor.
The sci-fi/fantasy journal I run is currently looking for editors!
Luna Station Quarterly publishes short speculative fiction by women-identified authors.
We're volunteer only, but the staff is awesome. We're in our 9th year & have a good reputation in the industry as well.
If you have 3-5 hours a week free, good proofreading skills & want to read a buttload of short stories, come apply!